Necessary reading for anyone concerned about the fate of American higher education.




An examination of the “new economics of college in America.”

In the mid-1960s, the federal government began investing huge sums of money in the educational system. As a result, more Americans from a greater variety of backgrounds had the opportunity to earn the degrees they believed would lead to middle-class prosperity. Goldrick-Rab’s (Higher Education Policy and Sociology/Temple Univ.; co-author: Reinventing Financial Aid, 2014, etc.) study, which uses current data gathered over six years and generated by 3,000 Wisconsin freshmen, reveals a disturbing national trend. Because the federal aid system has changed little in the last 50 years and because scholarship programs like the Pell Grant have not kept up with the skyrocketing costs of college, young people from low- and middle-income families are grappling with increasingly difficult financial choices. Many students, including six that the author followed very closely, must work part or full time at jobs made insecure by a volatile economy to pay for college. Additionally, they—and sometimes their families—are also forced to take out both student and bank loans. Moreover, just 48 percent of Pell recipients who start college full time “complete a degree or certificate of any kind within six years,” and Pell recipients who do earn a degree begin their working lives with an average debt of $30,000. Worse still, regarding the other 52 percent, “one in three leaves with…no credential and an average of $9,000 in student loan debt.” Despite the grim statistics, Goldrick-Rab believes that higher education can still be made more accessible by reforming the federal aid program, making true college costs clearer to incoming students, and creating a higher education system that offers the first degree for free. Bracing and well-argued, this study not only puts faces on the students who struggle to earn college degrees; it also serves as a warning that university study is rapidly becoming a privilege reserved for only the wealthy.

Necessary reading for anyone concerned about the fate of American higher education.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-226-40434-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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